Courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

Cheers to the winner: Chef Nobuo Fukuda savors the sweet taste of victory.

Congrats to Sea Saw's Chef Nobuo Fukuda!

Yeah, Arizona messed with Texas -- where all of this year's other James Beard "Best Chef -- Southwest" nominees are from -- and came out ahead.

At last night's 2007 James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony, held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in NYC, Chef Nobuo Fukuda of Sea Saw was awarded the top culinary honor for this region of the country.

“Winning a James Beard Foundation award is like taking home an Olympic gold medal, a Pulitzer or a Grammy," said Foundation president Susan Ungaro, last night.

Fukuda was nominated last year as well, but Mary Elaine's now-departed Chef Bradford Thompson received the 2006 award. In 2003, Fukuda was lauded by Food + Wine magazine as one of America's Best New Chefs.

Foodies have been fawning over Fukuda's "tapanese" creations for years. Dishes like sushi fois gras and octopus with tomato and olive oil give a modern twist to Japanese cuisine, while Sea Saw's exquisite tasting menus are as ever-changing as the seasons.

Sea Saw is located at 7133 E. Stetson Drive in Scottsdale, next to sister eateries Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz, which are operated by restauranteur Peter Kasperski. Later this year, Sea Saw will be moving across the street to the chic new SouthBridge development, where Fukuda will also open an edgy, desert-mod izakaya called Shell Shock.

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